Note to new readers, if any: This is not an adult site. In fact, it
is often unbelievably childish, as you may already have guessed...
Oh, and some of my best friends are Americans. Some of my relatives too, come to think of it.
I've found out that the SETI@home project is finally up and running. In fact, it's running in the background on my computer right now. The idea is that the idle processor time of home and office computers can be used to look for the telltale signatures of extraterrestrial civilizations. The program analyzes a small piece of data from the Arecibo Radio Observatory. It can take the place of your screen saver, or you can run it in the background if you have a fast computer or use applications that wait around a lot, such as word processing.
So, do I believe that we will discover an interstellar chat channel? Not likely! However, I do believe that the project will give a better insight in the natural signals from the sky. I take part in this more to advance science than science fiction. Hopefully we will learn more about what happened a long time ago in a galaxy far away. Not the love life of the triploid bug-eyed monsters, but the birth and life and death of stars and perhaps other celestial objects.
In the popular strategy game Civilization II, the SETI modern wonder of the world increases knowledge production in all cities of your civilization. Perhaps the SETI@home project will start to fulfill this ambition. It may further our knowledge not only of astronomy, but also of flexible networking and cooperation; and by bringing science into many homes, it may raise the awareness of science overall, especially in the new generation.
This is a voluntary project. You don't pay anything, they don't pay you anything. In the future, we may see private PC owners renting out their processing power for some small but tangible benefit, in the same way we are already "renting out" our attention to companies that reward us for reading ads. I'm using a Norwegian program, Digger, which will pay my Internet bills for me if I read enough ads. I don't need to ever buy anything from those ads, it is enough that I see them. The advertisers probably think that if I see enough ads, I'll buy sooner or later. Given that they risk their money on it, you'd think that they just might be right, though I haven't seen any connection so far.
In other news, I finnaly got physically hold of my credit card today. Yessss! Feeeel the power ... the power of the dark side! The doors are thrown wide open to the world of impulse shopping. Shop till you drop! No money required! All the world's kingdoms and their glories are up for grabs.